We would all like to believe that we are good communicators. We have probably all had situations arise where we have discovered that we are not quite as good as we think we are. I recently had an experience that made me realize that adopting the receivers perspective can make you a much better communicator.
Communicating Your Message:How Others Receive It
I recently wrote a script for a video that I was putting together for a client. The videographer is based in another city, so communication was mostly via email with a few phone calls. Scripts are a great way to communicate certain visual ideas because they are fairly standardized, and they call for the writer to think about all the smallest of details that can impact a scene. At the same time the writer has to allow for the creativity of the videographer and their interpretation of what is on paper.
When I got to see the final version of the video – not having been able to be on set during filming I was astounded to find that the images on the screen matched almost exactly those that had been in my head. I don’t take the credit for this, what I credit it to is the formal structure imposed on my communication by having to write a script that included all the details.
Communicating Your Message:What’s Missing?
I’ve run a few management training sessions throughout my career. One of my favorites was to take some lego bricks of various colors and sizes, and build a random abstract object. Then, using the same amount of bricks, of the same color and sizes, have a team who cannot see the original try to replicate it using only instructions relayed to the team by another person. The catch is that the team can’t see the original and the messenger can’t see what the team are building.
The results of this exercise can be extremely revealing. Which bricks are misplaced, which ones are missing altogether? Who takes responsibility for the errors? Taking part in these types of exercises can really assist communicators with identifying where they are strong and where they have weaknesses.
Communicating Your Message: What Your Audience Hears
What this experience has reinforced for me is that the best communicators learn to think like their audience. Instead of focusing on what you want to say, focus instead on what you want to be heard.
How are you communicating your message?